Preconception care (PCC) is the provision of biomedical, behavioural, and social health interventions to women and couples before they fall pregnant. The World Health Organization (WHO) developed PCC recommendations in 2013, which were included in the South African maternity care guidelines in 2016. The purpose of PCC is to lessen behaviours and environmental factors leading to maternal ill-health, thus reducing maternal and perinatal mortality rates.
Objective: To determine the implementation of PCC recommendations at health facilities in the selected districts of Limpopo Province and the associated factors.
Methods: A qualitative exploratory design was used. Nonprobability, purposive sampling was used to sample 29 professional nurses (PNs), and 51 women of childbearing age (WCBA) (19-35 years) from clinics and community health centres (CHCs). Data were collected through in-depth interviews with the professional nurses and focus group discussions with the WCBA. Data analysis was performed through open coding. Measures of trustworthiness were adhered to. Permission to conduct the study was obtained from relevant stakeholders, participation was voluntary and participants signed a consent form prior to data collection.
Results: The findings of the study revealed that there was partial implementation of the PCC recommendations in the selected districts of Limpopo Province, PCC provision was dependent on clients' initiation, a knowledge gap regarding PCC recommendations was identified from the professional nurses, and a lack of awareness regarding PCC from the WCBA.
Conclusion: The preconception period is an important determinant of the pregnancy outcome; therefore, focus should be redirected to the pre-pregnancy period and not only to when the woman is already pregnant. However, to achieve this, professional nurses and WCBA should be empowered regarding PCC and its benefits.
Keywords: implementation; perinatal outcomes; preconception care; recommendations.